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How can mobile games help us learn?

I was recently invited to talk about LEO Learning’s mobile learning games at the London Educational Games meetup.

It’s a great forum, filled with engaged people exploring interesting and innovative ideas. It set me thinking, though. Many of the people there, perhaps understandably,  seemed focused on games for children, or games which might engage people with learning in leisure time, such as when visiting museums and galleries.

Epic’s mobile games are focused on adult learners, or young adults rather than children, and they are generally aimed at workplace learning, or the sort of formal learning that might help people develop their careers, or learn new skills. So, is the idea of using a game to learn something serious and work-related an oxymoron?

I don’t think it is.

young boys play learning games

What serious games can offer serious learners is the opportunity to practice something again and again until you get it right. The opportunity to get instant feedback and an element of fun makes repeatedly practicing something until you get it right much more enjoyable than it might otherwise be.

Casual mobile games are the perfect forum for serious learners with limited time. Users can pick up and put down the game whenever they like, and meanwhile, the game cements and underpins the fundamentals of a skill by encouraging the player to practice that skill.

Learning games work when the mechanics of the game match the mechanics of the skill you need to master.  So if you need to improve your maths, then a contextualised set of exercises will help. If you need to to fix electrical circuits in a hurry, then a soldering against the clock is a useful activity to include in a game. The possibilities really are exciting!